A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A STUDENT

Let’s pause for a minute and try to imagine ourselves as students again. Usually, you have to wake up at 6:00 AM, bear with classes until 4:00 PM, only to find yourself working on assignments until late at night. We all need breathing space, but unfortunately, students’ jam-packed schedules rarely allow them to enjoy that.

“What's the point of spending so many hours at school only to spend more time studying at home?” Stephen Mariano, a high school senior, says.

Even experts agree. An article from EdWeek.org quotes Marilou Hyson, Associate Executive Director for professional development at the National Association for the Education of Young Children in the US, who says, “Homework that is isolating the child is not giving them opportunities to help prepare dinner or maybe take a walk in the neighborhood after school."


CHANGING FAMILY DYNAMICS

Decades ago, the idea of a mother working to help out in the family’s expenses wasn’t an option. This allowed moms to fully devote their time to their children’s homework at any time of the day. However, rising prices and fluctuating economics have ushered in the practicality of both parents working. This change in family structure can affect children who need a parent to guide them in academics outside of school. The usual scenario finds kids waiting up for parents to come home only to have homework time marked by whining and nagging.

“Too much homework places a huge burden not only for the kids, but for parents as well. After a hard day's work, parents must grapple with lessons that they haven't come across with in decades just to help out their children in their homework.  It doesn't help that assignments take hours to answer due to their bulk and difficulty that don't seem to be tailored to the current learning abilities of the child,” shares Mrs.Chel Mariano, who used to be a college professor and is currently a devoted mother of six.


(Photo source: sxc.hu)


no_homework_on_weekends_706347.jpgTHE PROBLEM OF CHEATING

Let’s face it: both children and parents might end up guilty of this. Parents, who are tired from work and the daily commute might not exactly look forward to poring over volumes of reference materials with their equally stressed kids. As such, there’s the danger of parents resorting to merely pointing out the answers for the children to copy, or even answering the homework themselves just to get it over and done with. The learning opportunity is not only lost, but this practice also sends a mixed message that “legitimizes cheating” since it’s done with parental supervision.


HOMEWORK OBJECTIVES MIGHT NOT BE REALIZED

“Homework sets a sense of continuity for learning. It reinforces skills needed in a particular lesson, and also prepares the student for the next meeting,” Joy, an art teacher, says.

Jessica, one of Teacher Joy's students, agrees. “Homework teaches valuable lessons such as responsibility and time management,” she says. However, these benefits run the danger of getting drowned out by the sheer quantity of homework students bring home daily.

“The objective of the homework should be made clear. Students should know why are they doing it in the first place, and its importance in relation to the lesson discussed in class. Otherwise, it's a waste time for both the teacher and the students,” Dina, teacher of five years, shares. Too much homework can turn it into a chore, instead of making it a relevant learning tool for the students.


BIGGER DOESN’T ACTUALLY MEAN BETTER

In 2006, Time Magazine published an article explaining the burden of too much homework. It featured the research of Dr. Harris Cooper, a homework scholar from Duke University who found out that “homework doesn’t measurably improve academic achievement for kids in grade school.” He further explains that due to kids' limited attention spans, only ten minutes per night starting in the first grade is the ideal span of time devoted to doing homework. This ten-minute rule should only increase as the child advances to a higher grade level, with only an additional ten minutes per grade level (20 minutes for Grade 2, 30 minutes for Grade 3, and so forth).

The same article also refers to studies comparing the academic performance of students from various countries. Interestingly, the said study revealed that students in Japan, Denmark, and the Czech Republic perform better than students in the US, despite having less homework load. On the other hand, students from Greece, Thailand, and Iran deal with more homework, but perform poorer than their US counterparts.


THE VERDICT

No doubt, finding the right balance between work and play is important. If kids don't look forward to weekends because of piles and piles of homework, then something is terribly wrong. Curtailing it during the weekends can give parents, teachers and students alike a chance to have a bit of a breathing space before school kicks in the week after. While we cannot deny the benefits of homework, neither can we deny the ill effects of having too much of it.


(Photo source: sxc.hu )
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